NFL Football

Source: Eifert opts for surgery, to miss season

Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert has opted to have season-ending surgery on his back, a league source said.

Eifert made the decision after consulting with Dr. Robert Watkins on Wednesday in Los Angeles. He is scheduled to undergo micro disk surgery Thursday and is expected to be out four to six months, the source said.

For Eifert, this is the third surgical procedure on his back in his career.

“I think most guys who have had issues with their back, they continue to have issues with their back, particularly when they’re playing competitive sports,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said regarding Eifert’s status two weeks ago. “But you have to learn to hopefully strengthen all the areas around so you minimize that. There are going to be some times when it’s not quite right, but most guys are able to get enough relief to get back at it. So that’s what we’re hopeful of.”

Eifert, a 2013 first-round draft pick out of Notre Dame, is in the final season of his contract with the Bengals. While the team expressed interest in re-signing him during the offseason, a new contract has not yet materialized. He would be an unrestricted free agent if he does not re-sign with Cincinnati.

Eifert has shown the ability to play at a Pro Bowl level when healthy. He caught 13 touchdown passes in 2015, his best season. However, he has never played a full NFL season and has played at least 10 games in a season only twice in his NFL career.

He missed eight games last season because of back and ankle injuries. While he was initially held out because of the ankle issue, the back injury pushed his debut to midseason and ultimately ended his year after he elected to have surgery.

Eifert has played in only two games this season. He appeared to reinjure his back in the Bengals’ Week 2 game against the Houston Texans.

Eifert said this summer that the back issues will be something that lingers the rest of his career, and he gave up golfing, a favorite pastime, after his last surgery.

“I’ve worked through a back [issue] before, and you just find ways to get the same benefits from different lifts or different ways to work out. You just have to work around it, which is fine. I’ve done that before,” he said in June.

While injured Bengals players often progress to rehab work on an adjacent field during practice, Eifert has not been seen by the media during the open portion of practice since the second week of the season.

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